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Murderer, father of Proctor killer, captured after escape from prison

A convicted murderer who escaped from the minimum security unit at Mission Institution on Friday is back in custody. Robert Raymond Dezwaan’s disappearance was discovered Friday during a 3:45 p.m. head count.
Robert Raymond Dezwaan
Robert Raymond Dezwaan was convicted of second-degree murder in 2003 and is serving a life sentence for the death by strangulation of 16-year-old Cherish Billy Oppenheim near Merritt in 2001.

A convicted murderer who escaped from the minimum security unit at Mission Institution on Friday is back in custody.

Robert Raymond Dezwaan’s disappearance was discovered Friday during a 3:45 p.m. head count. He was captured by Agassiz RCMP at 11:15 a.m. Saturday.

Agassiz is about 50 kilometres from the Mission prison and is home to Kent Institution, where Dezwaan’s son, Kruse Wellwood is incarcerated.

Wellwood, along with an accomplice, Cameron Moffat, raped and murdered Langford teen Kimberly Proctor in 2010. Wellwood said at his trial that he had not had contact with his father since 2001.

Dezwaan was convicted of second-degree murder in 2003 and is serving a life sentence for the death by strangulation of 16-year-old Cherish Billy Oppenheim near Merritt in 2001. He was out on bail at the time for attacking another girl in Kelowna.

Dezwaan left Oppenheim’s badly damaged body covered with rocks and debris off a deserted road. He took RCMP there after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Those crimes followed a 1993 incident in which he was convicted of unlawful confinement and break-and-enter after he broke into a woman’s home at night, climbed on top of her and tried to stuff a rag into her mouth.

Dezwaan’s crimes bear a striking similarity to the rape and murder of Proctor by Wellwood and Moffat. They lured Proctor to Wellwood’s home, bound her hands and ankles with duct tape and then gagged her with a sock before repeatedly sexually assaulting her. The teens tried to strangle her; they eventually suffocated her with a bag over her head.

Wellwood’s defence lawyer, Bob Jones, read a letter to the court at Wellwood’s sentencing hearing. In the letter, Wellwood mentioned his troubled relationship with his dad: “As a child, I hated my father for what he had done. I felt I was less than him and now I find I have become a worse man.”

The Correctional Service of Canada is reviewing the circumstances of Dezwaan’s escape and are focused on assisting the RCMP with the ongoing investigation.

A spokesman for the service refused to comment further, saying it would be inappropriate while the investigation is underway.

On a typical day, inmates are counted at 6:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 4:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., according to the correctional service. Informal inmate counts also take place several times a day, without interrupting activities.

During the night, correctional officers make regular rounds to ensure inmates are safe and in their cells or rooms between lock-up and the morning count.

— With a file from Katie DeRosa